A Freshly Minted Snipe
By: Jon Petersen
A freshly minted Snipe, I am, my first ship I am on.
Everything’s so new to me, my comfortable life now gone.
The ‘CHENG’ he’s called, hardened, cold and stiff as a board,
without remorse, he barks “To the hole you go, and oh yeah, welcome aboard”.
I look down through the hatch, down that endless ladder,
seeing nothing but pipes and cables, and the noise disturbs my bladder!
Apprehensively descending into a world most would call unfit,
I now find myself in the place all call Hell, known as the pit.
It’s strange, this place, the smells, the heat , the hellish turbine scream,
pumps, engines and evaps, all run by deadly steam.
I learn on the spot that sleep will come in short and restless hours,
One needs to eat, and maybe have time to pray and hit the showers.
“You’ll trace all lines, fuel, oil and water, reaching from stem to stern,
and don’t forget the steam and firemain, these all you will learn”.
“You’ll wipe the oil, pump the bilges, This hole is no place for complainers,
and now is the time, young Snipe, to shift and clean the Lube Oil strainers”.
And thus I learn, on a continual basis,
All the pipes, valves and gauges of this hellish oasis.
You have fun with me, the one called ‘Boot’,
sudden errands for strange things all find to be a hoot.
A squeegie sharpner, a BT punch. A bucket of live steam.
A bottle of A.I.R. What the hell does all this mean?
“You’re a Snipe, you live in the hole, your rack is just a reprieve.
You breath oily air, sweat out 2190, ’tis a life those above can’t conceive.
6 on and 6 off, for months at a time, ensuring that shaft turns and turns,
for if it stops the ships does as well, and the wrath from above simply burns”.
This young Snipe learned very fast that my job is more than just being there;
For if I fail in my duties to keep the engines running,
this ship and all onboard are no more than enemy fare.
I’ll continue to sweat, endure the sleepless night,
for my job as a Snipe no matter what it takes enables my ship to fight!
MM1 J Petersen